A School District Under Pressure

Jana Bennett Jana Bennett   |   June 8, 2017


A School District Under Pressure

Ana Applegate and her English Learner Program team for the San Bernardino City Unified School District faced a massive challenge. They had nearly 14,000 English learners at all levels of English proficiency and their teachers were not sure of each student’s language ability or how to assess it.

The team was under pressure from the San Bernardino City Unified School Board to implement a better solution quickly. “We needed an assessment that was simple to administer, wouldn't require too much work by teachers, and would give immediate data,” said Michelle Bracken, a Program Specialist in the English Learner Programs Department for the SBCUSD and manager of the Pearson TELL roll-out. “When we found TELL we were excited. Teachers didn’t have to do anything. They got kids on the device, launched the test, and could walk away. That was really appealing and it turned out that teachers liked that as well.”

When They Turned to TELL

According to Bracken, deployment of Pearson's TELL (Test of English Language™) pilot with ten schools in the Spring of 2016 went smoothly. “Most of the concerns that popped up were technical, but they weren't big issues; each item was easily solved with a phone call or email,” said Bracken.

“Teachers really liked the immediate feedback and the reports. They told us that the information was relevant and helped them with their teaching,” said Applegate. “The students also seemed to like TELL and we didn’t have anyone say they didn’t want to take the test or brush it off, as we see sometimes with the CELDT. They have taken it seriously and told us that they enjoyed it. That is a real plus,” said Applegate.

Applegate concluded, “Adding progress monitoring will enable us to do a better job with interventions for English Learners and TELL is going to play a big part of that evolution.”

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